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May 21, 2009

Spreading John Paul II's Theology of the Body
By Christopher West
You may have heard that ABC Newsí Nightline featured TOB and an interview with me on a recent broadcast. If you havenít seen the piece, you can view it here. The story provided unprecedented national media exposure and the response on ABC.com was almost unanimously positive (see comments here). We at the TOB Institute hope and believe that, as a result of the coverage, many viewers will take a deeper look at what the Church actually teaches about the glory and dignity God has bestowed on us by creating us in his image as male and female.

While this is good news to be thankful for, the ABC coverage did create some misunderstandings (see clarification here). In addition, we at the Institute received constructive advice on how we might better communicate when speaking to the secular media. As I have often said, finding the right language, images, and anecdotes to communicate the riches of the TOB is a process of trial and error Ė all the more so when dealing with the secular media. All of us involved in teaching and promoting John Paul IIís TOB must realize that the Father prunes every branch that bears fruit "so that it bears more fruit" (Jn 15:2). As fallen human beings, weíre like tarnished gold. The Father wants all of his children to shine, but removing the tarnish of our fallen humanity demands friction. "This is the way; [we must] walk in it" (Is 30:21).

Despite ABCís approach and some misunderstandings it caused, so many of you have expressed your gratitude to the Institute for speaking to a national media outlet about TOB, and in doing so, taking up John Paul IIís call to play a role in the New Evangelization. The ABC coverage, and the predominantly positive feedback that we at the Institute received in response to it, has provided us a unique opportunity to reflect on our organizationís mission, which is "to educate and train men and women to understand, live and promote the Theology of the Body." We believe in this mission passionately because we have seen how the TOB has brought countless individuals closer to Christ and the Church. This is a crucial point for all Catholics to consider as we seek to engage others in a culture that has not only rejected the Churchís teaching, but typically turns a deaf ear when the Church shares her voice: Arenít we all called to reach out to those around us Ė to share the Churchís teaching whenever we have the opportunity to do so, so that others may be brought to Christ? How can we do this in a way that actually engages the culture so that it wonít "turn a deaf ear"?

In the days and months ahead, I encourage you to think about how you might spread this glorious message. It may be through a conversation with a friend or family member, in your classroom, at your parish, or in dialogue with others online. Whether itís reaching out to one person, hundreds or thousands, Christ calls us to spread the Good News. The Institute staff is eager to assist you in this endeavor, so please feel free to call on them if you think they can help. With this in mind, please know that in addition to the work we do in speaking to Catholic, Christian and secular media, we at the Institute will continue to do our best to fulfill our mission, through our educational programs offered on site in parishes and dioceses across the country, through our clergy training program, and through our growing line-up of week-long Certification courses offered throughout the year here in Pennsylvania (see schedule).